The Obstacle Is the Way
To prevent becoming overwhelmed by the world around us, we must, as the ancients practiced, learn how to limit our passions and their control over our lives.
You will come across obstacles in life—fair and unfair. And you will discover, time and time again, that what matters most is not what these obstacles are but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure. You will learn that this reaction determines how successful we will be in overcoming—or possibly thriving because of—them.
Choose not to be harmed—and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed—and you haven’t been. —MARCUS AURELIUS
This can’t harm me—I might not have wanted it to happen, but I decide how it will affect me. No one else has the right.
Don’t let the negativity in, don’t let those emotions even get started. Just say: No, thank you. I can’t afford to panic.
“When you worry, ask yourself, ‘What am I choosing to not see right now?’ What important things are you missing because you chose worry over introspection, alertness or wisdom?”
You can always remind yourself: I am in control, not my emotions. I see what’s really going on here. I’m not going to get excited or upset.
The phrase “This happened and it is bad” is actually two impressions. The first—“This happened”—is objective. The second—“it is bad”—is subjective.
Objectivity means removing “you”—the subjective part—from the equation.
The struggle against an obstacle inevitably propels the fighter to a new level of functioning. The extent of the struggle determines the extent of the growth. The obstacle is an advantage, not adversity. The enemy is any perception that prevents us from seeing this.
We may be able to articulate a problem, even potential solutions, but then weeks, months, or sometimes years later, the problem is still there. Or it’s gotten worse. As though we expect someone else to handle it, as though we honestly believe that there is a chance of obstacles unobstacle-ing themselves.
Remember the first time you saw a complicated algebra equation? It was a jumble of symbols and unknowns. But then you stopped, took a deep breath, and broke it down. You isolated the variables, solved for them, and all that was left was the answer.
There’s nothing shameful about sweeping. It’s just another opportunity to excel—and to learn.
When you’re at your wit’s end, straining and straining with all your might, when people tell you you look like you might pop a vein . . . Take a step back, then go around the problem. Find some leverage. Approach from what is called the “line of least expectation.”
If Perception and Action were the disciplines of the mind and the body, then Will is the discipline of the heart and the soul.
we should always prepare for things to get tough.
It is far easier to talk of the way things should be. It takes toughness, humility, and will to accept them for what they actually are.
We don’t get to choose what happens to us, but we can always choose how we feel about it.
There’s a saying in Latin: Vires acquirit eundo (We gather strength as we go). That’s how it works. That’s our motto.